Why We Get Disgusted

A new study explains why we think some things are icky — and marketers are starting to pay attention

Andreas Kuehn / Getty

The ewww factor. A new study explains why we think some things are icky - and marketers are starting to take heed.

Andrea Morales and Gavan Fitzsimons can both remember when and where their current research interest began. It came during a talk at the University of Pennsylvania a few years ago: Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology, took a cockroach that had been sterilized, dipped it into a glass of orange juice, then asked if anyone was willing to take a sip.

Nobody was. But if an involuntary ewww just went through your mind, as it almost certainly did, the experiment is still working. Rozin specializes in the psychological study of disgust, and he was demonstrating the universal concept of touch transference....

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